The Planetarium

The Planetarium

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By Nathalie Sarraute

Translated by Maria Jolas

ISBN: 9781628973891

Publication Date: 7/19/2022


A young writer has his heart set on his aunt's large apartment. With this seemingly simple conceit, the characters of The Planetarium are set in orbit and a galaxy of argument, resentment, and bitterness erupts. Telling the story from various points of view, Sarraute focuses below the surface, on the emotional lives of the characters in a way that surpasses even Virginia Woolf. Always deeply engaging, The Planetarium reveals the deep disparity between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us.


"It fulfills ideally the dream of Flaubert and Mallarmé, dreamed again by their Irish and Czech admirers, Joyce and Kafka, of a novel made out of nothing and in which events are next to nothing." New York Times

"The best thing about Nathalie Sarraute is her stumbling, groping style, with its honesty and numerous misgivings, a style that approaches the object with reverent precautions, withdraws from it suddenly out of a sort of modesty, or through timidity before its complexity, then, when all is said and done, suddenly presents us with the drooling monster, almost without having touched it, through the magic of an image." —Jean-Paul Sartre

"The Planetarium is a wonderfully believable account of a short, sharp struggle between an exploitative young man with literary ambitions and his rich, domineering relatives.." New Yorker

"In a prose of disturbing clarity that evokes a mood of bleakness and desolation Nathalie Sarraute writes of a world in which the real and the imagined are often indistinguishable, in which characters dangle helplessly in the voids created by their anxieties and apprehensions." —Kirkus Reviews

Biographical Information

Nathalie Sarraute (1900-1999) was the author of eleven novels, three works of criticism, a collection of plays, and an autobiography. She is well-known as one of the prime proponents of the New Novel, alongside Alain Robbe-Grillet, Robert Pinget, and Claude Simon. Her book Tropisms was included on Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century and she was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature by Nobel Committee member Lars Gyllensten in 1969.

Maria Jolas (1893-1987) was an American publisher, editor, translator, critic, and journalist who co-founded the Paris literary review transition alongside her husband.